Read: Luke 15:1-32
“‘For this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke 15:24
Luke 15 may, in fact, be my favorite chapter of the whole Bible. It’s Jesus, using parables, to put the religious people in their place as they complained that He was hanging out with sinners. He illustrates passionately and with extreme examples just how much God loves people who are far from Him and just how open the invitation to be part of His family is.
The religious people had made their faith all about them. They got to set the standards, they got to decide who was in and who was out, and they made themselves the object of God’s affection. They were what I like to refer to as a holy huddle. “We are in and everybody else is out and God loves us more.”
Jesus sets the record straight in this passage by not only spending time with the people who were out, but by telling stories that left no doubt as to how God felt about them.
The truth is, there is a little bit of religious leader in all of us. We do think in terms of who is in and who is out, but more importantly we love our exclusive groups. I suppose there is not a problem with exclusive groups as long as they aren’t a Church. Jesus makes it clear here that His kingdom is about seeking and saving the lost, not holy huddles.
Some churches are simply gatherings for the faithful. They are set up to draw church people from other churches, and according to Jesus that’s not even close to the heart of God.
Some Churches are more on the mission side of things and that’s good. But we must always be on guard in our hearts and in our churches to be outward. o be as obsessed with lost people as Jesus was, to be as comfortable with the lost as Jesus was, and to be as dedicated to helping people find and follow God as Jesus was.
Our natural propensity as self-centered human beings is to make our faith all about us, our favorite theology, our own redemption, our own goodness, and our own efforts. But in reality Jesus was and is so obsessed with lost people that all of heaven stops and throws a party every time someone comes home.
At our church we celebrate baptisms regularly and every time we do it’s a party. People clap, shout, and celebrate for those who are coming home to God. We like to imagine that we are joining in with the party going on in heaven for those who were lost and are now found.
So how about you? What motivates your heart? You or them? Jesus was so motivated toward, so passionate about, so obsessed with lost people that He laid down his life for them. He calls us to lay down our agendas and join Him in pursuit of those who are lost and need to be found, who are blind and need sight.
Our church is often slammed for being unorthodox by the religious people. That’s okay! We’re simply doing whatever it takes (short of compromise), to reach those who don’t know the good news. Jesus did the same thing and was accused of compromise. We are in good company…
So let the party begin!!!
God – please give me your heart for people. In Jesus’ name, amen.